Did you know that dancing was good for you? Good for your health. Good for your mind, and your entire wellbeing. Dancing is not just for joy anymore. Did you know that there was an American Dance Therapy Association? Dance therapy assumes that the body and the mind are connected. In that way movement increases our emotional and physical health. Could it be good for our spiritual health as well?
Churches have included dance as part of our worship experience for decades. Our worship times at General Synod have been frequently graced by dancers and movement. Liturgical dance groups are often a part of a congregation’s youth programs such as the one at Second Church of Plymouth UCC in Manomet, Massachusetts. Their dance group participates in worship, is for first graders to middle schoolers and includes drumming. Can you imagine the energy they share? How good it is for them to learn that moving is an expression of prayer. At Covenant United Church of Christ in South Holland, Illinois, their youth ministries include dancers called the Alpha to Omega Steppers. They rehearse regularly on Saturdays. In their mission statement, it says they are organized to, “provide our youth the opportunity to develop, discover, and praise God through spiritual dance and to “Step to Jesus” with one sound serving one God.”
First United Church of Christ in Green Bay, Wisconsin has this to say about its worship time on its website: “When a person comes face to face with God’s Grace, their response is to return thanksgiving and praise.” Dancing is a response to Grace. That’s what David was doing when he danced for the Ark–responding to Grace. He got some pushback from the crowd but he didn’t let that stop him. We think about our sanctuaries as places of quiet and contemplation but sometimes, like David, we need to respond with joy and movement. Letting our young people move through that space expressing joy is a way of acknowledging that our spiritual lives are connected to our bodies. We can pray with everything we’ve got.
UCC churches around the country host all kinds of opportunities for church members and others to learn ways to move through God’s world. Some churches host Folk Dancing, some ballroom dancing, Tango (which has been compared to mindfulness in dance) and at the Fairfax Community Church UCC in Fairfax, California, they even host workshops in Ariel classes. For those who don’t know, Ariel classes include trapeze arts and learning that incredible silk climbing and swinging you can see in Cirque du Soleil. What can your church organize to get your people moving in response to God’s grace?